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Michael Skakel Released on Bond Pending Retrial

After serving 11 years for the murder of Martha Moxley, Michael Skakel has been freed on $1.2 million bond pending a retrial.

Skakel, the nephew of Ethel Kennedy, was 15 years old in 1975 when Martha Moxley was murdered. The crime went unsolved for more than 20 years and suspicion had always focused on his brother Tommy. After Dominick Dunne and Mark Fuhrman re-ignited interest in the case through their books, suspicion shifted to Skakel and in 2000, he was charged with murder. He was convicted at trial and sentenced to 20 years to life.

Had Michael Skakel been charged in 1975 when the murder occurred, he would have been tried in juvenile court and if convicted, received a sentence of no more than two years. That's how juveniles were treated back then in Connecticut.

At the time of the crime, there was a five year statute of limitation on murder, which had expired by the time Michael was charged. In upholding the conviction, the Court overruled its own 1983 precedent. (More on that below.)

I'm glad Skakel's conviction was overturned, but I don't agree his conviction was the result of inadequate representation at trial. Here's what I think went wrong at the Skakel trial and on appeal. A recap: [More...]

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Michael Skakel Sues Nancy Grace for Libel

Michael Skakel, whose parole hearing is today, has filed a libel suit against Nancy Grace, Tru-TV host Beth Karas, Time Warner and Turner Broadcasting, for falsely stating evidence of Michael Skakel's DNA was found near the scene of the crime.

In the segment, "Kennedy Cousin Asks Judge for Shorter Jail Time," Grace asks Karas if Skakel was masturbating in a tree near Moxley's window. Karas responds: "His DNA was found."

The lawsuit says that both Grace and Karas "are thoroughly familiar" with the fact that there was no DNA evidence linking Skakel to the Moxley murder.

Here's the video. Karas says his DNA was found and Nancy reminds her it was semen. Henry Lee testified at the trial that there was no direct evidence, no DNA, no semen:

Henry C. Lee, the former head of the Connecticut State Police and a renowned forensic criminologist, testified today that state prosecutors have no direct scientific evidence, like fingerprints or DNA, to connect Michael C. Skakel to the 1975 killing of Martha Moxley.

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Michael Skakel Up For Parole

Martha Moxley and her neighbor Michael Skakel, nephew of Ethel Kennedy, were both 15 in 1971, the year Moxley was murdered. No one was charged with the murder until 25 years later. Skakel, then age 40 was charged, tried and convicted as an adult. He was sentenced to an indeterminate sentence of 20 years to life. He is now 52, and having served 10 years of the minimum 20 year sentence, he is eligible for parole in April. A parole hearing is scheduled for October 24. The Moxley family is objecting. Mrs. Moxley wants him jailed for life.

At the time Martha Moxley was murdered, and until 1976, CT had a five year statute of limitations. In 2010, in affirming Skakel's conviction, the CT Supreme Court overruled precedent of more than 20 years, and held the 1976 amendment could apply retroactively to Skakel. Here is the 89 page majority opinion. Skakel's petition for cert to the U.S. Supreme Court, written by former Solicitor General Ted Olson, was denied. [More...]

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Connecticut Supreme Court Affirms Michael Skakel Conviction

In a 4 to 1 opinion, the Connecticut Supreme Court today upheld the conviction of Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel for the murder of Martha Moxley.

The appeal centered on Skakel's theory that two alternate suspects committed the crime. The court said the evidence doesn't support that claim. The majority opinion is here. There is also a concurring opinion, and a dissenting opinion. [More...]

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No New Trial for Michael Skakel

A state court trial judge has has refused to grant Michael Skakel a new trial based on new evidence presented at a hearing last summer showing he did not kill Martha Moxley.

Karazin found that the 2003 interview of Skakel's Brunswick School classmate, Gitano "Tony" Bryant, in which Bryant told a private investigator that his friends Adolph Hasbrouck and Burt Tinsley confessed to killing Moxley, was not believable. Bryant is a cousin of NBA star Kobe Bryant.

The judge said no other witnesses at the 2002 trial or the hearing placed Bryant or the other two youths in Belle Haven on the night of the murder and physical evidence did not bear out Bryant's claim that the two boys had described dragging her by the hair.

"The testimony of Bryant is absent any genuine corroboration," Karazin wrote. "It lacks credibility and therefore would not produce a different result at a new trial."

The defense will appeal the decision. And file another suit challenging the conviction based on ineffective assistance of counsel.

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Michael Skakel New Trial Hearing to be Televised

Michael Skakel's hearing on a Motion for New Trial begin Tuesday in Connecticut. Court TV will be televising it. The hearing is expected to last two weeks.

The hearing will center on a 2003 interview in which Gitano "Tony" Bryant reportedly implicated two friends in the 1975 bludgeoning of 15-year-old Martha Moxley in Greenwich.

Lawyers for Skakel, 47, the nephew of Ethel Kennedy, must prove Bryant's account surfaced after the trial and likely would have changed the verdict.

Robert Kennedy, Jr., and Skakel's original defense lawyer (and good TalkLeft pal) Mickey Sherman will be witnesses.

I expect there will be a lot of evidence presented about documents withheld by the prosecution in discovery.

TalkLeft's past coverage of the Skakel case is here. I think there was a paltry amount of evidence against him, most of which came from non-credible sources.

Take for example, Gregory Coleman, the dead drug addict who for all intents and purposes was allowed to testify from the grave.

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